Monthly Archives: September 2014

Preparing for fall – next year

I find it interesting how many sites have so little fall interest.  It’s probably because we all kind of forget about our yards starting in September.  With the change of seasons comes the change in routine…getting kids back to school, weekends spent watching football, and shorter days mean we spend less time outside.

What I do at this time of year, every year, is spend a lot of thoughtful time watching my garden so that I can plan for next year.  I’ve spent all summer watching it evolve, grow and now wane.  I want to make sure it is just as beautiful now as it was at its height.

I rely on some old standbys for fall color of course, Viette’s Little Suzy (a new improved version of a black eyed Susan), grasses with their beautiful plumes, fall mums, and Burning Bush and Sumac for that fantastic red color.

But there are some other interesting picks that you might not expect that can give you interest and add to the fundamentals.

Anemone ‘September Charm’

Sedum kamtschaticum


Hydrangea ‘Tardiva’



Geranium ‘Karmina’

For more information about Anemone, or the Japanese Wind Flower, read this great article by the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Some of my favorite Bulbs for next Spring

I am a bulb junkie.  I think it may come from my mother’s love affair with tulips, hence her nickname for me actually being tulip.  I tend to stick to daffodils in my perennial beds and tulips in stand alone annual beds (something mom doesn’t agree with), however some of these beauties might have me changing my mind about planting them throughout my garden!

There really isn’t anything that complements the blooms of Crabapples, Serviceberries and Red Buds that herald Spring in with a flash of color like tulips.  But beware…if you have deer or bunnies, stick with Daffodils!


(Clockwise starting with the upper left: Best Pink, Hi Hat, Heart (for those Indiana Hoosier fans), Pink Cloud, Strike me Pink)

1505_BestPink_CGC6570 1431_HiHat_CGC2171w 1416_Heart_CWH1527 1467_pinkcloud 1405_StrikeMePink_CGC5797

For one of the most astonishing bulb displays that I personally have had the pleasure of visiting, check out Keukenhof Gardens in Holland.  It is a wonder to behold.

Watering guidelines – new and existing turf

Newly Seeded Turf

Seed just planted should be CONSISTENTLY moist until growth begins.  This means a daily light watering for 15 to 30 minutes.  DO NOT OVER WATER AND DO NOT USE A STRONG SPRAY. You don’t want to drown the seeds, nor do you want to wash them away.

Once seedlings have reasonable growth (½” to ¾”), reduce watering to twice weekly and apply ¼” to ½” per watering.  Once mowed, watering can be done as to accumulate 1 to 1 ½” of water once per week.  Again, be certain to take rainfall into consideration.

Please note that seed will not germinate without the execution of these watering guidelines.

 New Sod

Sod should be watered daily.  Its good health and development requires up to 2” to 4” of water per week for the first couple of weeks.  After the first week, start stretching out the time between watering so that the roots will grow downward toward the soil moisture.  When you do water, water deeply.  Keep up the frequent watering until about 20 to 30 days after planting.  Once firmly rooted you may reduce watering to once per week, applying 1” to 1 ½” per application.

Please note that sod will die without the execution of these watering guidelines.

Established Turf

Established turf grass requires infrequent but heavy watering.   Remember you are watering the soil, not the grass.  Generally established turf grass requires 1 inch to 1½ inches of water per week for optimum health.

Watering twice a week may be required during extreme conditions, such as temperatures of 90 degrees or higher for a prolonged period of time or extremely windy days.  Separate the watering to the early part of the week and the later part of the week with a minimum accumulation of 1 inch per watering.

For more information about your turf, check out the National Turfgrass Federation’s website.

Watering Guidelines – new trees and shrubs

During the spring we generally receive a sufficient amount of moisture.  Spring to summer is probably the most critical transitional period because moisture levels can drop quickly and soil moisture availability rapidly declines.  This situation can be exacerbated by overly hot and windy conditions.

When plants start to show signs of stress by wilting permanent damage to the vascular system may have already occurred.  Prevention is the key; therefore we have prepared the following guidelines on the basics of proper watering procedures.

Time of Day to Water

The BEST time to water is about 3 a.m. to 10 a.m.  At this time the air is cool and very little evaporation loss occurs before the water reaches the ground.  When the sun rises and the air warms, the liquid quickly evaporates from the leaves.  Watering early in the evening encourages fungal infection (fungal infections thrive in cool wet conditions); watering in the heat of day is bad because much of the water evaporates before reaching the ground.  This accelerates buildup of soluble minerals in the soil that over along time can be ruinous to soil health.

Accurate Measuring

When you water, water deeply.  This means water for a long time, allowing the water to soak into the ground.  Ideally, you should provide one inch of water with every soaking, but not more than once per week.

Remember to take rainfall into consideration when monitoring your watering. Use a rain gauge to monitor the amount of water your landscape receives from rainfall and your irrigation system (if applicable).

Be careful…you can over water your plants!  Roots need both water and oxygen to thrive.  Over watering can kill plants because constant moisture suffocates the roots, thereby causing them to die and rot.  Inspect the area BEFORE watering by tunneling with a deep root feeder or stake.  If the soil is dry on top, it might still be moist underground and not need water.

Newly Planted Trees

When watering newly planted trees, remove the nozzle from your hose, wrap the hose in an old bath towel  (so it will disperse the energy of the spray) and set the hose at the base of the tree.  Water the area at a low pressure every other day (45 to 60 minutes) for 3 to 4 weeks, based on your soil conditions.  Make certain to change the position of the hose to water evenly.

Newly Planted Shrubs

Shrubs can be watered similarly to trees except the time frame drops to 10 to 15 minutes each.  Avoid watering foliage, most plants DO NOT like being watered from above because moisture build up on leaves encourages fungal problems.

For more information there is a great article by the University of Illinois Extension.